Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When No News Is Good News

It's been a while since there has been any news about 900 Columbia Street, the very early 19th-century building that the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties wants to demolish to make way for a new facility. In April, Gossips reported that the effort to save 900 Columbia Street had moved to the state level, with the State Historic Preservation Office and the State Office of Mental Health going through the consultation process required by Section 14.09 of the State Historic Preservation Act of 1980. Since April, Gossips has periodically inquired about the state of the things and been told there was nothing to report--until today.

When asked, Gossips' original contact at SHPO said he was now out of the loop because the case had moved to the tech unit. So Gossips called the person in the tech unit who represents Columbia County (and fifteen other counties) to find out what was happening with 900 Columbia Street. 

The sad news is that the file on 900 Columbia Street was closed on September 16, when the Office of Mental Health sent a letter to the Historic Preservation Office stating that they were ending the consultation and going ahead with the project. Apparently, they can do that.

The process at the state level seems to have replicated what happened on the local level, when an ad hoc committee tried to persuade MHA to change their plans. There was an analysis of alternatives, during which the State Office of Mental Health backed up MHA in their insistence that there were no alternatives. They had rejected other sites, had been rejected when they tried to move to Greenport, and were unwilling to subdivide the site--as the ad hoc committee had suggested--and share it with the historic house. 

It now appears that Hudson will lose another of its most historic buildings because it has the misfortune of being owned by an agency that excuses its determination to destroy the city's architectural heritage by maintaining, as similar institutions have in the past, that historic preservation is not its business.      


  1. Do they receive any City money? If so . . ..

  2. Not to my knowledge. They get their money from the State of New York, through the Office of Mental Health. That's why I was hopeful that this could be stopped at the state level. Why should public money be used to destroy our historic architecture?

    Unfortunately, this is the part of the city that is zoned for this kind of group home, and when this project came before the Planning Commission back in February, the members of that commission almost rubbed their hands with glee because that old house was coming down. Apparently there are water mains under the house that DPW can't wait to get at.

  3. OK, Carole -- educate me! I get that there are mains under the property (presumably); but what gets the DPW's heart a-racing in this regard? In other words, what are they planning to do?

  4. John--I'm not certain what the problem is, but you may recall that there seems to be chronic work on the infrastructure on Green Street--owing to water main breaks, I believe. There was a big project done in the summer of 2010. How exactly this house is involved with that, I don't know, but I was at the Planning Commission meeting in February when this project was presented, and someone on that commission, perhaps Cappy Pierro, made the comment that when they were excavating for the foundation of the new building and before they paved the footprint of the historic house for a parking lot, DPW would want to "get in there and take a look." Don Tillson, who used to live on Green Street, in fairly close proximity to this house, agreed. That's all I know.

    Perhaps Rob Perry, who sometimes reads this blog, could enlighten us.

  5. Can't the city can pass any law it wants to regulate the demolition of historic houses? Seems they could control it if they wanted to.